A coalition of civil society groups and professional bodies in the construction industry is set to launch a major campaign for the standardisation of cement production and importation.
Specifically, the coalition will call on the relevant authorities to initiate actions to make 42.5 grade of cement the standard product in Nigeria.
Their argument is that nearly all the cement manufacturers and importers in the country are in the habit of taking advantage of the lax regulation and lack of enforcement to vary their pigmentation in favour of the lower grade cement (32.5) which in most cases is used in building works, and seen to be partly responsible for building collapse.
They are of the conviction that the practice which is quite prevalent, is usually overlooked by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), a situation they claim is partly responsible for the worrisome cases of collapsed structures in the country.
The coalition plans to take its campaign to the National Assembly with a plea that the lawmakers probe manufacturers and importers of cement for compromising standards in the building and construction sub-sector.
The agitators say they will enlist the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) to prompt SON to be alive to its responsibilities by ensuring that strict standards are maintained and offenders punished. They will also call for the enforcement of the National Building Code, stressing that it could go a long way in addressing the lax control by regulatory authorities.
The Concerned Civil Society groups say they are equally reaching out to the Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN) to lend its voice to this unwholesome practice of cement manufacturers which, according of them, is endangering the lives of the people. They vowed to confront the Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (CMAN) for poor standard of locally produced and imported cement
They contend that their stance is not unpatriotic, rather, it should be seen as a fight not to compromise standards on the altar of monetary gain. They claim in their working document that in advanced countries, there is migration from the lower grade of cement or 32.5 to the higher level 42.5 specification and even 52.5 with a uniform standard set by government, manufacturers and importers who can be held accountable whenever there is infraction or reduction in agreed specification.
The coalition spokesperson, Mr. Tunde Ojo, blamed the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr Olusegun Aganga, for complicity with manufacturers and vowed to mobilize block makers nationwide against manufacturers and importers of poor quality cement.